Franck Sylvain, Haiti's 37th president, began life in his birthplace of Grand-Goâve. He earned a law degree, practicing as an attorney after graduation. He later was appointed to the bench as a Civil-Law Court judge, rendering a decision in favor of one of President Paul Magloire's intimate friends. For that political favor he was retained by President Magloire for further government legal matters.
Sylvain began his political career when he established The Crusade, a pro-active publication that raised the consciousness of the Haitian people about Communism's imminent threat to Haiti's struggle for democracy. He also headed a political party, Rally for the Haitian People, an underground organization.
Daniel Fignole, born in 1913 in Pestel and raised in grinding poverty, suffered from childhood malnutrition. To escape the poverty of his birthplace, Daniel re-settled in Port-au-Prince and sought an education. He proved to be an excellent student, winning acceptance to a top-tier university in the capital.
During the early 1940s, Daniel Fignole published the leftist, Chantiers, in which he harshly criticized the mulatto elite of Haiti. President Elié Lescot, provoked by Fignolé's attacks, stopped the publication, axed him from his government job, and spied on him.
Indifferent to government actions, Daniel Fignole kept organizing the working-class of Port-au-Prince. They became aware of him as an electrifying orator, motivational writer, and powerful labor leader. It was rumored he could rally mass demonstrations at a moment's notice. In 1947, he headed the Peasant Worker Movement, a tight-knit union comprised of every labor sector.
Stenio Vincent was the 30th President of Haiti, from 1930-1941. Born of mixed-race parentage, he earned his law-school degree by his 18th birthday. He rose to prominence in the leadership role in the Chamber of Deputies before running for the presidency. As part of his political platform, he voiced extreme disapproval of the U.S. occupation of Haiti. Vincent won the National Assembly majority vote and assumed office in October 1930.
By 1934, after U.S. military forces pulled out, Stenio Vincent began oppressing opposition leaders, spying on and incarcerating them. Now a loyal supporter of U.S. democracy, he became signatory on a trade agreement with them. In 1935, he won the popular vote, keeping him in office until 1941.
Paul Magloire, Haiti's 35th president, was born in 1907, heir of a military father. He followed his father's career path, enlisting in the army and rising to Chief of Police in Port-au-Prince.
Paul Magloire played a pivotal role in overthrowing two Haitian presidents, Élie Lescot and his successor, Dumarsais Estimé. President Estimé, in a fruitless effort to draw out his time in office, attempted to amend the Constitution. The mulatto elite aided Magloire in deposing Estimé. Magloire then took the reins of power as President of Haiti.
During his term, Paul Magloire poured money into tourism, Haiti becoming known as a desirable vacation destination for foreign travelers. Imposing a tax on coffee-bean exports, he used the monies for development projects, raising living standards of the impoverished, as well as improving city services. Most notably, he gave the right-to-vote to women. In foreign policy, he forged stronger relations with the Dominican Republic, reversing the violent and unstable history they had shared in the past.
Jean-Claude Duvalier was growing up in an insular and wealthy family culture. When Francois Duvalier died in 1971, Jean-Claude inherited the presidency while still in his teens. At this time he was considered the youngest person on the globe to hold the office.
Jean-Claude Duvalier was not interested in the duties of office, delegating authority in most government matters to his mother, Simone. He made only superficial changes to his father's administration, preferring instead to be a figurehead rather than a hands-on ruler.
Jean-Claude Duvalier engaged in corruption practices, using family riches from a tobacco inheritance to steal revenues from government programs. Other illegal activities used to increase his wealth included selling human remains to medical institutions outside the country and drug trafficking.
The year 1990 -1991 saw a woman adorning the seat of the president of Haiti and this was the first time it was happening in the history of Haiti. Ertha Pascal Trouillot was the ninth child of a family of ten children. At the age of 10 she was sent to be mentored under Ernst Trouillot, along with one of her brothers.
Judge for Many Years
Though she wished to pursue a career in science she was directed by her mentor to law and later into politics. He wanted to be with and this later led to the marriage of the two, even though he was 21 years her senior.
Emile Jonassaint was born on May 20th 1913 and became the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in Haiti and later served as the president for a short period. Earlier the military regime had forced Jean Bernard Aristide to move out of the country.
Crimes by the Army
After a few years from May 12th to October 12th 1994, Emile Jonassaint functioned as the Head of the Provisional Government. During his tenure it is alleged that some of the most inhuman crimes were meted out by the Haitian army.
Human rights were not followed and this also upset many people. The fact was that the entire army was not bad but there were stray incidents of the army behaving in a reckless manner. This did not go well with other countries and the US was keeping a continuous watch.
Born on November 2nd 1932 at Cap- Haitien, Henri Namphy was another military leader who became the president of Haiti. In the army he rose to the post of a general. His first stint in the political area was as the President of Haiti during a period where the interim body ruled.
The interim body was the National Council of Government and they ruled from February 1986 to February 1988. This interim council consisted of six civilians and six military personnel. This interim body assured elections and reforms that would be people friendly.
Herard Abraham was born on July 28th 1940 in Port-au-Prince. At a very young age he enlisted himself into the Haitian army. He rose in the ranks of the army and also had a short stint in politics. So he can be called an army man and a political figure.
Hérard Abraham rose to the position of Lieutenant General of the Haitian Force Arme D'Haiti and became a close member of the inner circle of the Duvalier family.
In spite of being close to the Duvalier Family, Herard Abraham joined hands with the new president Henri Namphy. He served as the foreign minister in the new government, his first political post.
The Haitian government is led by a president, who shares his/her executive power with the prime minister. Once elected by popular vote, the president will run the country for five years. After the term, the president could not run in the next election. He/she has to wait for five years in order to seek a second term. Haiti presidents can only serve for a maximum of two terms.
Not everyone can run for president as there are certain qualifications and requirements to be eligible for the seat. Only candidates with Haitian citizenship by birth can run for the position, as well as those who are at least 35 years of age. Jail sentence, loss of civil rights and lack of property ownership and residency can make a candidate ineligible to assume the position.
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